Vintage Hand Tools #3: Tenon Saw Rehab

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Blog entry by Brandon posted 05-07-2013 09:59 PM 7907 reads 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Keen Kutter K5 Plane Part 3 of Vintage Hand Tools series no next part

Here’s an old tenon saw that I purchased from Ebay some time ago. I hadn’t done anything with it for awhile so I decided it was time to stop ignoring it. The maker according to stamp on the spine is Abraham Ashton & Sons, Sheffield. I didn’t know much about the company, but it looked like a good candidate for a rehab. Here's some info on the sawmaker.

One of the things that stood out to me was the tapered saw plate (so I thought).

The handle, applewood, I believe, had a lot of character; the lamb’s tongue is usually a good sign in a vintage saw like this. The flat bottom on the handle, which I’ve seen elsewhere, didn’t speak to me, but I knew something could be done about that.

Here’s close up of the stamp on the spine.

And here’s the back side of the handle. Notice what terrible shape the split-nuts were in. All three were present, but this photo was taken after I had removed one of the nuts. It was the only one that came off in a traditional manner. The other two were stuck and had to be drilled out.

I knew I needed to get a new set of split-nuts and bolts for the saw, and thanks to TobyC’s suggestion I found a good source at Blackburn Tools (Isaac Smith). I ordered three bronze replacement sets of nuts and bolts along with this sweet split-nut spanner. I’m very pleased with my purchased—- quality stuff!

So after much sanding on the saw plate, the brass spine, and the handle itself, I had what appeared to be a pretty decent saw. It’s not quite an Andy (Brit) quality restore job, but I’m pretty happy with it. One surprise was that the saw plate wasn’t all the way imbedded in the spine. A little brute force puts it right back in place (I’ve seen it done on videos this way). So it wasn’t a tapered saw plate after all, but no big deal.

I reshaped the bottom of the handle a bit to give it some more character. I used spray lacquer on the handle and followed it up with some paste wax.

Here’s the stamp on the spine; you’ll notice that the stamp wasn’t perfect, but I could still easily make-out the words.

And here’s the back of the saw along with those split nuts.

How could I not include a before-and-after photo?

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

17 comments so far

View JuanGatico's profile


72 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 05-07-2013 10:12 PM

Congratulations, excellent!

View Don W's profile

Don W

20171 posts in 3788 days

#2 posted 05-07-2013 10:29 PM

Very nice job. Are you sharpening it?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Airframer's profile


3117 posts in 3173 days

#3 posted 05-07-2013 10:46 PM

Very cool! I need to find me some apple wood.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3819 days

#4 posted 05-07-2013 10:48 PM

Sweet rehab Brandon. The re-shaping of the handle looks great. Tell us about the sharpening plan…

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4172 days

#5 posted 05-07-2013 10:51 PM

This saw was surprisingly sharp already. I gave it a few test cuts and was please with it, but I do plan on sharpening it down the road. I plan on using it as a cross-cut saw to complement my new LN rip tenon saw. I’ll probably do more practicing on a lesser saw first, though.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 3597 days

#6 posted 05-07-2013 10:55 PM

Nice work. Now just need to sharpen?

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View CL810's profile


4167 posts in 4209 days

#7 posted 05-07-2013 11:52 PM

Saw looks great Brandon. Great improvement to the handle. I also like your choice of finish for the handle. Lacquer really makes it pop.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4172 days

#8 posted 05-08-2013 02:48 AM

Thanks CL810 and OJM. I think it will be an excellent user.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Mauricio's profile


7168 posts in 4372 days

#9 posted 05-08-2013 03:14 AM

Did you get that from Ebay UK? Because brass backed saws in the states are usually around LN prices.

Also, I need to get me some spray can lacquer, that stuff really looks nice. Nice reshaping of the handle also. The saw looks amazing! I want one.

Does Crown make a cheap version of this saw I can trick out with a new handle?

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View waho6o9's profile


9055 posts in 3797 days

#10 posted 05-08-2013 03:23 AM

Clean work Brandon, congrats on a great rehab!

View lysdexic's profile


5349 posts in 3843 days

#11 posted 05-08-2013 04:11 AM

I also like the handle mod. Much better.

How did you refinish the handle? Did you clean it, sand it or both?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4172 days

#12 posted 05-08-2013 04:32 AM

Mauricio, I honestly don’t remember if it was a US or UK seller—- it’s probably been over a year since I’ve had it and haven’t done anything with it. One thing is for sure, I’m a cheapskate and wouldn’t have paid more than $30 for it. As you can see in the photos, it had some issues and it wasn’t a popular sawmaker, so that probably kept the price down.

Scott, I completely sanded the handle down to bear wood—- I didn’t apply any bleach or cleaners to it, though. Then I coated it with BLO and wax, but that was a little too dull, so I sanded a lot of that off and refinished it with that spray lacquer and wax.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Brit's profile


8394 posts in 4063 days

#13 posted 05-08-2013 11:55 AM

Brandon – Nice job on that rehab. You’ve done it proud. I have an Ashton & Sons 5 PPI rip saw that is waiting to be restored. I have to get some replacement split nuts though because I broke three of them trying to get them off. Funny, but the three that broke were not original to the saw anyway and were smaller than the holes. They didn’t budge at all, almost like someone had glued the nut on the thread. By the way, handles with the flat bottoms are referred to as London Pattern handles. They are quite sought after by some people, but personally I don’t like them either.

Enjoy that saw!!!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4172 days

#14 posted 05-08-2013 12:29 PM

Thanks Andy! I know I’ve seen that handle design before, but didn’t know what it was called.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View AnthonyReed's profile


10182 posts in 3661 days

#15 posted 05-08-2013 03:46 PM

Very nice job Brandon.

-- ~Tony

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